LIVE: Can Medlen stake his claim in Braves’ rotation?

Kris Medlen makes his second of at least three starts today for Braves, but will he stay in rotation? (Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

Kris Medlen makes his second of at least three starts today for Braves, but will he stay in rotation? (Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

Hello. It’s hot. (Old journalism training: Don’t bury the lead.)

The Braves close out what has been a successful home stand (7-2) against Houston, and what happens in today’s game against Houston could impact their starting rotation as much as it doesn’t the National League East standings.

Kris Medlen will make his second start after winning 7-1 over Miami last week. In his first start in two years — Tommy John surgery followed by relief work — Medlen allowed only one run and four hits and needed only 57 pitches to get through five innings. (A lengthy rain delay ended his night.)

He is scheduled to make at least one more start next Saturday at New York, but then the Braves will have a decision to make. The rotation currently looks like this: Tim Hudson, Ben Sheets, Paul Maholm, Mike Minor and Medlen. Tommy Hanson, who went on the disabled list July 31 with what’s believed to be a minor back injury, is eligible to be activated a few days after Medlen’s start against the Mets.

So what would the Braves do? Hudson, Sheets and Maholm will stay in the rotation. Presumably, so will Minor, who has strung together some nice starts after problems earlier in the season. That leaves three options: 1) Moving Medlen back to the bullpen, where he has been valuable; 2) Moving Hanson to the bullpen, which seems doubtful given that he has never pitched there in his career; 3) Going to a six-man rotation.

Medlen would be the easiest move, but if the guy looks strong against the Astros and Mets I don’t see how the Braves could do that to him. I may get into this more later in a post-game column, depending on how today’s game goes.

Today’s lineup is fairly standard, with the exception of catcher Brian McCann getting a day off: Michael Bourn (8), Martin Prado (7), Jason Heyward (9), Chipper Jones (5), Freddie Freeman (3), Dan Uggla (4), David Ross (2), Paul Janish (6) and Medlen (1).

That’s it for now. I’ll be here through the game to respond to your questions and vents. The cyber floor is yours. What are your thoughts on Medlen and the rotation?

By Jeff Schultz

185 comments Add your comment

LuisG

August 5th, 2012
12:04 pm

Hudson, Sheets and Maholm will stay in the ROTATION [...]

DaddyK

August 5th, 2012
12:06 pm

” Hudson, Sheets and Maholm will stay in the bullpen.” Do what? Where is @ajcsportseditor? They are in rotation not bullpen.

Chris from the Rock

August 5th, 2012
12:06 pm

Too much pitching is never a problem. Next year’s rotation battles will be intense in ST. Assuming they pick up the options on Hudson and Maholm, Medlen, Delgado and Teheran will battle it out for the 5th spot.

AN

August 5th, 2012
12:12 pm

Typos: 1) not an 8-2 home stand, yet; 2) Hudson, Sheets, Maholm will stay in rotation, not bullpen.

Stuart

August 5th, 2012
12:12 pm

I would go with a six-man or stick Hanson in the pen since he is unable to give the Braves six innings.

Scott

August 5th, 2012
12:13 pm

Sorry, I’m not a Hanson fan. He’s someone I feel confident throwing out there needing a win. He’s just not a true #1. I’d rather have a six man rotation and keep Medlen in there.

ChipperisGod

August 5th, 2012
12:14 pm

Get yourself an editor Schultzy.

I don’t want Hanson in the rotation personally. His ERA is far too high and for some reason we always score a lot of runs when he pitches. He struggled against the Marlins and Mets, and good teams like the Nats have crushed him all year.

Medlin is a beast on the mound and deserves a shot. And that whole contract deal coming up with Mac, Bourn and Hanson? Resign Mike and Mac, Tommy is more expendable then those guys. We have loads of pitching, and especially with Beachy coming back next year, Tommy is the odd man out IMO.

Until he can consistently prove that he can be a shut down starter and win games against quality opponents, he shouldn’t be in the rotation.

Fredi G will stick with him and I hope Tommy can regain the dominance he had in the rotation of the first half of last year. I just don’t see it happening.

Are You Kidding?

August 5th, 2012
12:17 pm

Never pitched their? Really? There?

Steve

August 5th, 2012
12:19 pm

Jeff, headed to NY next weekend to see the Braves/Mets. Any good restaurant recommendations for dinner?

archie

August 5th, 2012
12:20 pm

1. Hanson’s velocity and control have been going down, almost game-by-game.

2. His conditioning is poor. He’s obviously out of shape, wears down quickly.

3. His control is also going south.

4. He has difficulty bouncing back from mistakes; the numerous home runs he gives up, mistakes in the field (by himself as well as others).

5. He does not help his team at the plate. He’s a poor bunter, rarely makes contact.

I cannot think of a single reason to keep him in a pennant/wild-card race rotation when there are at least 5 other pitchers on the roster who are superior starters. He’s Jurrjens 2.0.

TuffShhhtuff

August 5th, 2012
12:20 pm

Don’t think today’s game will start on time. There’s a line of storms from about Augusta to Macon almost to Columbus that is moving North and should arrive in ATL about game time. Most move North to South but this one is in reverse. Maybe the game will get rained out today and a certain sportswriter will be happy (NOT JS). Seems he needs his beauty rest, based on the “selfish” comment made last week.

Birdhair

August 5th, 2012
12:20 pm

Moving to a 6 man rotation actually might the smartest idea considering how 1. we collapsed last season and the bullpen was so taxed and 2. the fact that we will likely be in the 1 game playoff game the little extra rest might pay dividends in the long run

Jeff Schultz

August 5th, 2012
12:23 pm

I have so many wonderful editors. Thank you all for your corrections and, most of all, your warmth.

archie

August 5th, 2012
12:25 pm

Oh, and I forgot:

# 6. Hanson’s goofy wind-up and delivery, and lack of a good pickoff move makes him an easy mark for base stealers. Wanna see a good move, watch Medlen.

Jeff Schultz

August 5th, 2012
12:28 pm

Are You Kidding? — I’m not sure if you were referencing Hanson. But in the majors all 99 of his appearances have been as a starter. In the minors, he made 75 appearances, 69 coming as a starter. In rookie ball at Danville in 2006, he pitched out of the bullpen 5 of 13 times. The following year at Single-A Rome, only 1 of his 15 appearances came out of the bullpen. Everything else has been a start.
Here’s a link: http://www.baseball-reference.com/minors/player.cgi?id=hanson001tho

don't forget Jurjens.

August 5th, 2012
12:28 pm

don’t forget Jurjens.

Steve

August 5th, 2012
12:28 pm

Ha ha. Jeff isn’t it amazing how perfect everyone is?

Jeff Schultz

August 5th, 2012
12:31 pm

Don’t Forget Jurrjens — The only way Jurrjens makes it back into the rotation is injury problems to others.

massahh

August 5th, 2012
12:33 pm

does hanson become FA after the season or does he still has 1 more arbitration left?

"Chef" Tim Dix

August 5th, 2012
12:34 pm

Gonzo says Venter’s elbow is OK. I take that as Manager speak for his left leg may fall off at any moment…KMed to the pen.

Steve

August 5th, 2012
12:34 pm

Jurrjens is done. Next year Beachy, Hudson, Hanson, Maholm, Minor.

MattyB

August 5th, 2012
12:35 pm

I say keep him starting because he’s going to be there anyway in the postseason as part of a 3-man rotation. He’s too cool and consistent under pressure to not be included in the playoff rotation.

ChipperisGod

August 5th, 2012
12:38 pm

Why would we be warm about these very simplistic errors you made? You’re a great writer, but as a professional, you should be able to catch yourself when you make these kinds of mistakes.

Dawgdad (The Original)

August 5th, 2012
12:44 pm

The Braves win in 15 of his 19 ML starts and they consider moving him back to the pen? Go to a six man rotation, Fredi, do something original man. We always lose down the stretch because the pitchers get tired, or so they say. There will be injuries somewhere along the line, before the season is over. If someone is going to get dropped it should be the weakest link, aka Hanson.

Can you imagine, a manager in the playoffs telling his guys to run at every chance against Hanson. They could rack up 10-12 stolen bases, which would be embarrassing for the Braves. Plus with all the walking around the mound and sweating wiping, he wouldn’t last but five long innings.

Steve

August 5th, 2012
12:45 pm

“ChipperisGod” what’s it like to be perfect?

Jeff Schultz

August 5th, 2012
12:46 pm

Massah — Hanson will be on arbitration track for a while. Can’t be FA until 2016.

English Speaking White Guy

August 5th, 2012
12:47 pm

McCann sitting again? He used to catch 4 out of 5 games. Now its 3 out of 4. Really messing up my fantasy teams. He needs to be traded to the AL so he can DH when he’s not catching.

ACE

August 5th, 2012
12:48 pm

tuffstuff ripping DOB on JS blog. I doubt he will lose any sleep over it.

Birdhair

August 5th, 2012
12:52 pm

Why not move Ross to C when Hanson throws? Ross two days in the lineup wouldnt be so bad. He’s a high OBP player and Ross might help Hanson stayed disciplined holding runners on and would obviously help throw them out.

massahh

August 5th, 2012
12:53 pm

i’d say keep both hanson and kmed as part of a six-man rotation. this way we can keep hanson’s value the same and trade him in the offseason for a bat.

GrammarWhat?

August 5th, 2012
12:57 pm

Jeff, Are You Kidding? was referring to your misuse of the word their. It should be there. I think we’d all agree you were correct about Hanson’s bullpen experience.

massahh

August 5th, 2012
1:05 pm

jeff, can we send jurjens and hanson to the nats for TWO sacks of balls?

Busch Leaguer

August 5th, 2012
1:12 pm

Never has a Braves pitcher with a 12 and 5 record taken so much abuse.Better to pitch ugly and win than have good stats and lose.

Hack Wilsun

August 5th, 2012
1:23 pm

What’s the weather like at the ted?

Wrecker

August 5th, 2012
1:23 pm

Hanson’s splits home and away are a bit odd. In approximately the same innings, he gives up more than 1 run more at home (4.89 home and 3.78 away), .050 more in batting average (.289 versus .240), and .050 in OBP (.372 versus .322). This is odd since Turner Field is traditionally a somewhat neutral field for batting versus pitching.

Most of his pitches are down about 3 mph from his peak a couple of years ago. You wonder whether the grind of the 2009 and 2010 season (194 innings (minors and majors) and 202.2 innings) have worn on him. He only pitched 130 last year and has pitched 126 this year, but his March to June and July to September splits are not that different, primarily because he has missed time in the latter half of the last two years.

Zing

August 5th, 2012
1:35 pm

JS: Doesn’t matter how well Medlen does, Gonzalez will stick him back in the ‘pen. So, really, the debate is simply: is that going to be a good or bad move (not, what will the Braves do?).

Probably will be a bad move, and Hanson will cost the Braves a couple of games before being shut down for the season (yet again). I feel for the guy; he’s not the same pitcher he was when he first came up. He used to be a power pitcher, and now he’s a junk baller– much like Jurrjens. Hanson’s value in the future may very well be as a setup guy / middle reliever to get him through an entire season.

My Man Woody

August 5th, 2012
1:38 pm

Medlen may be (and probably is) a better starter than Hanson, but he is such a valuable commodity out of the bullpen especially in those games where Minor or Delgado cant go more than 5. The braves are better with Hanson as one of the top #5’s in baseball and Medlen in the BP than they are with Minor as the best #5 in baseball but no one to pitch consistent ling relief.

Jeff Schultz

August 5th, 2012
1:38 pm

Zing — I’m inclined to agree on plans. …. Not ready to make declaration on Hanson’s future though.

Jeff Schultz

August 5th, 2012
1:39 pm

And Medlen starts with a strikeout.

Jeff Schultz

August 5th, 2012
1:40 pm

Oooh, Powerball is up to $212 million. … Sorry, mind wandered.

"Chef" Tim Dix

August 5th, 2012
1:45 pm

getaway day strike zone…for both teams.

Jeff Schultz

August 5th, 2012
1:47 pm

Uh-oh. Prado hurt on that slide.

"Chef" Tim Dix

August 5th, 2012
1:47 pm

he was out and prado hurt.

Zing

August 5th, 2012
1:48 pm

I really, really hope Hanson bounces back, but this is 2 years in a row that he’s worn down. Something seems to be wrong, and it seems like it’s a shoulder issue. There’s no Tommy John shoulder fix, unfortunately.

Jeff Schultz

August 5th, 2012
1:48 pm

He got spiked/cut (as you probably can see on TV). … Staying in game.

"Chef" Tim Dix

August 5th, 2012
1:49 pm

please put some antibacterial on that stat, Prado is prone to infection.

"Chef" Tim Dix

August 5th, 2012
1:51 pm

Gordon Solie would describe Prado as, “Double tough, would fight a buzzsaw and give it the first two rounds.”

"Chef" Tim Dix

August 5th, 2012
1:52 pm

I would describe the blonde in the first row behind the plate as “Double Tough.”

Steve

August 5th, 2012
1:53 pm

Jeff, what do you think the Braves will do next year with Chipper retiring? Move Prado to third and have Johnson start in left? What do you think they will do about center field if they can’t afford Bourn?

Jeff Schultz

August 5th, 2012
1:56 pm

Steve — Johnson is a bench guy. Prado to third is a possibility. But he’s arbitration eligible again and he has been danged in trade talks before. A lot of things up in the air.